Lockhart and Smith answer the call

RALEIGH, NC -- The competition was there as well as were the doubters, but after it was all said and done it was Bobby Lockhart and Richard Smith on top as the national champions in their distance specialties. Both were indoor national champions, yet still had many doubters going into this weekend\'s races.

After suffering a defeat to Chris Solinsky at the Arcadia Invitational 3200 (although Lockhart was sick for that race) with Solinsky blazing the last quarter, it was Lockhart returning the favor at nationals as surprised many as he sat back with the pack which went out in a slow 4:38 first mile to end up closing in a 4:20 last with a 2:04 last 800 and 58 sec last 400 in which he passed the well-known kicker Solinsky on the backstretch of the bell lap and never looked back as he won in a time of 8:59.19.

Although Smith had defeated Paul Cross of Florida at the indoor national meet, some gave Cross the upper hand heading into their showdown this weekend since Cross had the better PR than Smith (1:49 to 1:50). Smith sat behind the leaders for the first 400, which he covered roughly in 52 seconds. However, in usual Smith style, he blew past the leaders on the final 200 en route to his time 1:49.04. The battle between Smith and Cross never materialized as Cross ran behind Smith for the majority of the race, but finished third in the race at 1:51.36.

While there were two champions from Virginia on the boys side, Denbigh\'s Yvette Lewis was the sole national champion on the girls\' side. It was quite unexpected as she wasn\'t a pre-meet favorite in the triple jump, but she jumped away with a national title from Raleigh in the event with a remarkable leap of 40-09.50\".

A much positive sign for the future was Virginia having the freshmen mile champion for both the boys and girls. Denbigh\'s Derrick Robbins was the favorite heading into the boys\' race as he was in the indoor national race, but he changed his race strategy for this race. In the indoor national race, Robbins set a quick early pace from the start but ended up fading to third in the race. However in today\'s race, he changed his tactics. Despite coming in with a much faster PR than the top competitiors, Robbins was content to stay in the pack until 100 left where he ran down New York\'s Kevin Tshirhart to win in a time of 4:24.49. Fauquier\'s Sarah Bowman didn\'t wait that long to break away from the leaders as she won the girls\' race convincingly in a time of 5:05.62.

There were also more than a handful of Virginians who earned All-American honors or who had strong performances in Raleigh.

While the boys\' high jump and pole vault was missing the state\'s two best in Keith Moffatt and David Sullivan who would have been obvious national champion contenders, we had two Virginians step up and take home with them All-American honors. Adam Linkenauger of Lord Botetourt, the AA State champion in the high jump, earned All-American honors as he took 6th in his specialty with a mark of 6-08.75. Great Bridge\'s Daniel Garrett, went a personal best 15-05 in the pole vault to garner a 5th place finish.

There were some strong performances from Virginians in the boys\' horizontal jumps. Oscar Smith\'s Jamonte Manley had a solid performance in the long jump as he finished 9th with a leap of 23 feet. Lawrence Waller from the small school of Tunstall kept up his success from winning the state title in AA two weekends ago as he earned All-American honors in the triple jump with an outstanding leap of 47-07.25. William Fleming junior Ryan McCoy also faired well in the triple jump as he finished 8th at 47-00.75.

James Robinson junior Stephen Huntzinger was the state\'s top performer in the throwing events as he finished 15th in the shot put (58-07.50) and 10th in the discus throw (174-09.00).

There was also some notable performances out of the boys\' relays. In the boys\' 4xmile, Thomas Jefferson and Midlothian just missed out on earning All-American honors as they finished 7th (18:04.14) and 8th (18:04.35) respectively, which their times put them roughly at an excellent 4:31 average for each miler on the teams. The John Handley distance medley relay was the only relay on the boys\' side to earn All-American honors though as Bobby Lockhart\'s 1600 anchor leg helped them slip into 6th place.

Phil Gaeta of Oakton finished second in the second fastest boys\' mile heat with a time of 4:14.32, which was good enough to get him 8th overall. Ernest Asante also had a strong finish in the the boys\' 400 meter hurdles as he finished 9th with a time of 54.60.

The Virginia girls were also represented well as a few athletes earned All-American honors and high finishes. Oakton\'s Bonnie Meekins had a superb jump of 5-08.75 in the high jump to become an All-American as she finished 4th in the event. Another Northern Region athlete earned All-American honors in the field events as Centreville\'s Alicia LaRoche took 5th place in the pole vault 11-06.50.

While there were no All-Americans out of the girls\' relays, there were two notable relay performances. Both the Jefferson Forest girls\' 4xmile (21:24.59) and Kellam girls\' 4x800 (9:26.04) took strong 10th place finishes.

Tallwood\'s Faraign Giles was the only othe All-American finisher in the girls\' running events as she clocked an impressive 55.88 to win her heat in the 400 and take 6th overall.